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Microsoft's PowerPoint rival, Sway, now free for all

Barry Collins
16 Dec 2014
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Microsoft's swish new online presentation tool emerges from invite-only preview

Sway, a new online presentation tool from Microsoft, has now been made available to anyone with a Microsoft account. Sway is in many ways a threat to Microsoft's own PowerPoint software, and the company's response to the many online PowerPoint rivals that have emerged in recent years.

Sway allows users to create scrolling presentations using a combination of photos, videos, text, social media updates and other media. It's all put together using a simple drag-and-drop interface, with Microsoft providing a host of themes with which users can "remix" their presentations. 

Sway was originally unveiled as an invite-only beta a few weeks ago, but has now been made open to all as part of Microsoft's suite of online Office tools. The company has added a series of new features to Sway to coincide with the general release. 

Microsoft has added undo and redo buttons to Sway, to let users easily roll back if they make a mistake. Bullets and auto-numbering have been added to the text tools, giving Sway even more of a PowerPoint feel. Text can also now be edited directly on the "Canvas" - the layout that shows how the presentation will appear to viewers. PDFs can be embedded into Sway presentations for the first time, and Microsoft is improving the colour palette options that are available to users. 

In another sign that Microsoft is becoming increasingly pragmatic about which platforms its software and services appear on, it's making Sway for iPhone available in selected countries. There's no sign of any Windows Phone equivalent. 

Sway is a response to online services such as SlideRocket, Prezi and even Google Slides, which have all threatened to eat away at PowerPoint's stranglehold on the presentation software market in recent years.  

Microsoft claims that in the 10 weeks Sway has been available as a limited preview, it's had more than a million unique visitors and 175,000 requests to join. You can create your own Sway presentations here

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